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April 16, 2011

Kristi Wolf: In praise of adjunct professors

Merced College, like other colleges, has a large pool of professors who are part-time.

These professors are called adjunct professors, and they typically teach anywhere from one to three courses (up to 10 units) per semester.

Compare this load to full-time faculty who teach from three to five (or more) classes (minimum of 15 units) but full-time professors are given a permanent office.

Even though adjunct professors work part time at Merced College, they are by no means unqualified to teach courses in their respective disciplines. Most adjunct professors hold a master's degree at least.

The Academic Senate at Merced College has named 17 adjunct professors "Adjunct Professor of the Year 2011." The professors who won this title were nominated by their full-time colleagues.

Of the 17 professors given this honorable title this year, I have had the pleasure of working with five of them from my capacity as a secretary on campus. I have also had the pleasure of having two of the five as a professor.

Miho Schweizer has been working for Merced College for just over a year teaching Japanese. She has been a pleasure to work with; always pleasant. I hear great things about her teaching from other students as well.

Many in Merced are most likely familiar with Jay Sousa Photography. Students at Merced College have had the privilege of learning from him for the past three years. Jay has done some really great things with his classes in the last three years, such as the Faces of Merced College project with the studio photography students a couple semesters ago.

The photos from that project were used on the Merced College 2010-2011 course catalog. Jay will also have a photography exhibit at hARTSfest on May 7 as well as being an active member of the hARTSfest master planning committee.

Laura Marchini is another fairly new professor on the Merced College campus and she has been a joy for me to work with. She always has a smile on her face and an encouraging word. Laura teaches communication and is very good at her job.

Laura is also very active on the hARTSfest master planning committee and excited about what is going to be happening on May 7. Laura is in charge of getting the volunteers together for that event and is doing an amazing job coordinating the volunteers and the advertising. She still needs many volunteers.

Lorraine Barnes teaches philosophy and when she found out she was named Adjunct Professor of the Year, she was so excited and yet so humbled. Lorraine has been a joy to me as secretary. This semester I have had the privilege of being in her critical thinking class.

I get to see the teaching side of this amazing lady, which really is not much different than her out-of-the-classroom personality. It is also good to note that she does not play favorites either. Just because I am her secretary, I still have to work to earn my grade.

I would not expect anything less from her or any other instuctor. I have gotten to know her this last year and am proud to call her my friend.

Last, but certainly not least, is Elizabeth Harvey. I took Dr. Harvey's online History-17A class my second semester at Merced College. Even though the class was online, Dr. Harvey was always encouraging, uplifting and motivating.

I began working in the department with Elizabeth that next semester and have gotten to know her very well. Elizabeth has become a good friend and was the first of several instructors to encourage me to write. She is an inspiration and a wonderful mentor.

I can say firsthand that these professors are Adjunct Professor of the Year 2011 for good reason. They love teaching and they love their students.

These professors are always willing to meet with their students outside of the classroom for extra help and instruction in order to help their students succeed.

This is perfect because these instructors perfectly model the mission statement of Merced College: "Students are our focus and we are known by their success."

Congratulations to all 17 Merced College adjunct professors of the year; you deserve it.

Kristi Wolf is a full-time secretary and student at Merced College, majoring in administrative office management, with aspirations of being a writer.

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